Bottom line: Ascutney retail area getting a makeover

Valley News Business Writer
Published: 12/25/2021 10:21:39 PM
Modified: 12/25/2021 10:21:13 PM

A roadside corner that long had Ascutney Village residents fuming over a store that sold “smoking paraphernalia” and “adult novelties” is being rehabilitated into a retail hub that will be the new home for a wine and spirits shop, a convenience store, a popular deli from Charlestown and a franchise store.

Ross and Buffy Girard, owners of the Running Bear Camping Area in Ascutney, have purchased the parcel across the road from their seasonal camper site at the intersection of Route 5 and Running Bear Trail where The Magic Mushroom was located.

The Girards have demolished the ramshackle building and are putting up a new 5,000-square foot-structure into which will move Windsor Wine & Spirits — to be renamed Fireside Beverage — and be joined by former Kimball Union Academy head chef David (Deej) Collisse’s Real Deal Deli of Charlestown.

The couple also plan to open a Batteries Plus outlet at the site, the second BP store to pop up in the Upper Valley recently after one opened in the former West Lebanon post office this past summer.

“It was the eyesore of the town,” said Ross Girard, echoing a sentiment of many residents about the lot across from the entrance of his campground where The Magic Mushroom (which has moved to Springfield, Vt.) was located and, at an earlier time, a roadside bar named The Savage Beast.

He described the property as a “good fit” with the campground, which would also “allow us to better control what happens at the bottom hill,” where a head shop and sex toy shop wasn’t an ideal neighbor for a family-friendly campground.

Currently, Fireside Beverage operates on the campground site as a small convenience store. To upgrade selling wine and spirits, however, the Girards are purchasing Windsor Wine & Spirits from longtime owner Rice Yordy, who is retiring after 15 years of running the business in downtown Windsor.

Before the Girards surfaced with their offer a couple months ago, Yordy said he was expecting to have to close his store, which has drawn customers who’d rather not shop at the supermarket-like NH Liquor & Wine Outlets across the river.

“This is a much better outcome compared to what I was looking at,” said Yordy, 75, of the sale.

Windsor Wine & Spirits will continue to operate from its current location on Depot Avenue in Windsor until the spring when — weather and building materials supply chain permitting — it will reopen under the Fireside Beverage name at the Ascutney location, Girard said.

“There will be no down time,” Girard said of the transition.

Weathersfield Town Manager Brandon Gulnick praised the three-business store hub as “a lot more exciting” than what had existed previously at the location.

“We’re looking for economic redevelopment in Weatherfield and this is nice,” he said.

As for what the Girards plan to do with the camp store space once they move the business into the new building, Ross Girard said they are not so sure.

“We may put a couple pool tables in there,” he said.

Adimab adds on

Tillman Gerngross’ biotech company, Adimab, is building a 30,000-square foot addition to its Lebanon headquarters on Lucent Drive in the Centerra business park that will be bigger than its original 25,000-square-foot structure, Gerngross said.

The three-story structure will contain “research facilities, laboratories, meeting rooms, offices, storage space, all of the above,” according to Gerngross.

Adimab facilitates discovery of yeast-based antibodies for therapies in development at scores of manufacturers, including such giants as GlaxoSmithKline, Merck and Lilly. Last year, Adimab spun-off Adagio Therapeutics into a separate company which is developing antibody technology to combat coronavirus rather than the standard approach with vaccines and is already

“It’s larger square footage (than the original single-story building) but a smaller footprint to lessen the impact on the wetlands,” said Tillman, who added that groundbreaking has begun but he doesn’t expect the building project to be completed until 2023.

Founded in 2007, Adimab has 110 employees and is currently seeking to hire at least 16 more people, ranging from research associates to a biochemist, patent attorney, IT engineer and “catering and office coordinator.”

“We’re trying to grow and hire but like everywhere else it’s a very tight labor market right now,” Gerngross said.

Contact John Lippman at

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